Hillicon Valley: Ex-Google engineer charged with stealing trade secrets | Oracle appeals ruling over $10B Pentagon cloud contract | Facebook rolls out alerts feature for local governments

Hillicon Valley: Ex-Google engineer charged with stealing trade secrets | Oracle appeals ruling over $10B Pentagon cloud contract | Facebook rolls out alerts feature for local governments
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FEDS CHARGE DRIVERLESS CAR ENGINEER: A former engineer at both Google and Uber has been indicted by a federal grand jury in California for allegedly stealing trade secrets involved in Google's self-driving cars program.

The 33-count indictment against Anthony Levandowski, filed earlier this month and unsealed Tuesday, alleges that he downloaded more than 14,000 engineering, manufacturing and business files from Google in the months before his departure from the company in early 2016.

Levandowski worked as the lead of Google's Light Detecting and Ranging (LiDAR) engineering team from 2009 through 2016. The program was part of Google's push to develop self-driving car technology. Levandowksi is alleged to have stolen files including instructions for installing and testing LiDAR and circuit board schematics.


After leaving Google, Levandowski is alleged to have taken files to two companies competing with Google to develop self-driving cars -- Tyto LiDAR LLC and 280 Systems Inc. -- the second of which became Ottomotto.

Ottomotto was acquired by Uber in 2016, with Levandowski hired at the same time to lead Uber's self-driving car efforts in San Francisco; Palo Alto, Calif.; and Pittsburgh.

Uber fired Levandowski in 2017 after charges were brought against him involving theft of trade secrets from Google.

Levandowski faces up to 10 years in jail, along with a fine of $250,000 per count, if convicted.

David Anderson, the U.S. attorney for the District Court of Northern California, emphasized in a statement that "theft is not innovation."

Read more here.


ORACLE FIGHTS JEDI DECISION: Oracle Corp. on Tuesday filed an appeal to a federal claims court ruling that found the cloud-computing company does not have standing to contest a $10 billion Department of Defense (DOD) contract that will likely go to either Amazon or Microsoft.

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract has been the subject of intense lobbying efforts in Washington by Oracle, Amazon and Microsoft, and many Republicans have alleged that the bidding war was biased in favor of Amazon from the start.

Oracle sued, arguing that the Pentagon crafted the contract specifically with Amazon in mind and that the process was rife with conflicts of interest.

But last month a judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims said Oracle could not "demonstrate prejudice" against itself.

Dorian Daley, the general counsel for Oracle, released a statement on Tuesday announcing that the company would challenge that ruling.

"The Court of Federal Claims opinion in the JEDI bid protest describes the JEDI procurement as unlawful, notwithstanding dismissal of the protest solely on the legal technicality of Oracle's purported lack of standing," Daley said.

Read more here.


HEAR US OUT: Voting rights and election security groups are urging two House and Senate committees to hold hearings on the security of voting machines.

The groups, which include the National Election Defense Coalition, Electronic Privacy Information Center, R Street Institute and Public Citizen, asked the House Administration Committee and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee in a letter to schedule election security hearings that include testimony from voting machine vendors and election security experts.

"The security of our nation's elections is acutely dependent on the vendors that supply our computerized voting systems," the groups wrote. "The voting system vendors have operated with little oversight and no regulation for decades."

"Given the gravity and urgency of this issue, we write to you to urge the committees to hold a hearing on election system security featuring sworn testimony from officers of the voting system vendors to shed more light on their practices which directly impact the security of the nation," they added.

The groups cited reports in recent months that certain voting systems rely on outdated Windows 7 operating systems, that one major election machine vendor installed remote access software on its election systems and concerns about a lack of transparency from voting machine vendors.

The House Administration Committee has already held hearings on election security issues this year and has pushed through, along party lines, the Securing America's Federal Elections Act.

The Senate Rules Committee held hearings on election security last year in the run-up to the midterm elections but has avoided moving legislation.

Read more here.


FACEBOOK ROLLS OUT LOCAL ALERTS: Facebook is rolling out a new feature to enable local governments and first responders to send out alerts conveying urgent information and warnings to their followers.

The company announced on Tuesday that it will be deploying the new tool later this year for local governments across the country after a months-long trial with around 350 government accounts proved successful.

Jimmy O'Keefe, a Facebook product marketing manager, told The Hill that the company started developing the tool after surveys with users showed there was a demand for community information, particularly from local governments.

"We feel like we're at a spot where we're confident that this is a tool that's helpful for both first responders when they have a situation that they need people to get information about, but also for people," he said.

Local government Facebook pages will soon be able to mark certain posts as alerts, which will amplify them on users' feeds and register as notifications for their followers. The information will also be featured on Facebook's new "Today In" tab.

Facebook has posted a form for local governments to fill out when the new feature is rolled out in their areas. Users will have to follow their local authorities' official accounts in order to receive the alerts.

Read more here.


WINDOWS PRIVACY ISSUES: The Dutch Data Protection Agency (DPA) is investigating a potential breach of privacy rules by Microsoft, Reuters reported Tuesday.

The regulator says that Microsoft is remotely collecting data from users of Windows Home and Windows Pro, a discovery made while testing privacy protection changes in Windows made last year.

"Microsoft has complied with the agreements made," the DPA told The Hill in a statement.

"However, the check also brought to light that Microsoft is remotely collecting other data from users. As a result, Microsoft is still potentially in breach of privacy rules."

The DPA forwarded its findings on the potential brief to its counterpart in Ireland, where Microsoft has a headquarters.

"The DPC has had preliminary engagement with Microsoft and, with the assistance of the Dutch authority, we will shortly be engaging further with Microsoft to seek substantive responses on the concerns raised," the Irish Data Protection Committee (DPC) told Reuters.

Read more here.


A LIGHTER CLICK: The best bedside manner.


AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Facebook audit shows conservatives have the social media company's attention.



U.S. officials fear ransomware attack against 2020 election (Reuters) 

Google warns against blocking 'cookies' entirely, triggering criticism. (The Wall Street Journal)

How China uses LinkedIn to recruit spies abroad. (The New York Times)

YouTube's CEO explains why it leaves up 'controversial or even offensive' videos. (The Verge)